Tools & Dies

The essential tools and dies, used to manufacture engineering components and everyday articles, often contain vanadium for improved cutting edge hardness and wear resistance.

By varying the composition and heat treatment a wide variety of property combinations can be obtained. This makes it possible for steels to have the very different properties required in high speed tools and dies used in the automobile and heavy engineering industries and for domestic hand tools such as spanners and screwdrivers

Dies for hot forging, stamping and pressing operations have to withstand high surface temperatures (up to 1500°C), thermal shock, high pressures and, in the case of stamping dies, impact loading.  A tough steel with a hard surface is required and relatively high tungsten-vanadium steels are used

Tools used for the machining of steel at high speed, as in the production of automobile components, require a cutting edge which is stable at the high temperature reached at the tool tip which can be in excess of 600°C. Particles of vanadium carbide formed during the casting of the steel and which remain out of solution throughout the heat treatment operations satisfy this requirement. So called high speed steels (HSS) were developed at the beginning of the 20th century contained 1% vanadium. Improved and lower cost versions containing 2% vanadium are now standard.

Cold pressing dies and tools handling hard materials must have high abrasion resisting surfaces. Tools and dies containing as much as 10% vanadium can now be produced for punches and dies by using powder metallurgy methods.

Knives, shear blades, extrusion dies, pelletiser blades and screw conveyors, handling metals, plastics and other abrasive materials also benefit from powder metallurgy alloying. Similar tools operating in wet conditions are made from corrosion resistant steels containing 4% vanadium.

Vanadium is added to many grades of carbon steel used for lathe tools and milling cutters, blacksmith’s tools, stamping dies, rock drills, chisels, wood cutting tools and razor blades. The precipitation of fine particles of vanadium carbide during heat treatment of the tolls increases their hardness and improves their cutting efficiency giving them longer life. Vanadium increases the depth of hardness in heat treated tools which increases their resistance to crushing, their toughness and hence their resistance to fracture under loading.